AFSCME Council 18

AFSCME Statement Regarding Taos County "Runaway Shop" / PPC 120-12 before the PELRB

     Dedicated union employees working for Emergency Medical Services, Adult and Juvenile Detention Facilities in Taos County are experiencing what we refer to in the labor movement as a "runaway shop". A runaway shop is characterized as a workplace where quality of management has been corrupted and managers have fallen into a cycle where unwarranted discipline is dispensed rampantly; where management engages in systematic retaliation against employees who are perceived as questioning compromised management style.

    Often, at times like these, management points the finger at the workers' union for playing a role in making things worse. AFSCME Council 18 condemns any assertion along these lines in the strongest terms possible. Local leaders have filed a number of grievances in an attempt to mitigate a hostile work environment and protect employees' rights at EMS, JDC and ADC. In the midst of a runaway shop, union leaders are compelled to use EVERY tool at their disposal to protect employees rights, livelihood and quite frankly, their safety.

     Outspoken employees are being targeted by management and as a result, employees have closed ranks standing in support of these leaders. In one especially egregious attack by management, where the deepest level of an employee's character was brought into question, an overwhelming majority of the employees in that division spoke up in support of their fellow worker.

      Taos News has reported on the rash of top level county government firings that have occurred over the past months. What does not make the news are the front line employees who have also been fired, quit, or transferred.

     The PPC which AFSCME Council 18 filed specifically addresses the County's move ignoring shift bidding practices protected by collective bargaining agreements. Without these rules being adhered to, employees are seeing schedules and work assignments changed arbitrarily without sufficient notice or in compliance with contract language. Management has used the opportunity to avoid paying overtime, splitting shifts, and reassign employees to far flung work areas as a form of punishment.

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     AFSCME Council 18 is responding due to great concern that unprofessional alliances between elected leaders and county employees have set in motion the abuse of civic responsibility, with front line employees, Taos County citizens, and public safety bearing the brunt of the consequences.

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